UK Amends Visa and Immigration Rules

By Editorial 09 September, 2013

Britain's immigration minister has outlined changes to the UK's immigration rules, highlighting measures to be introduced from October that the Government believes will increase flexibility for businesses.

The details are explained in a written ministerial statement by Mark Harper MP. The revisions remove the English language requirement for intra-company transferees, make it easier for graduate entrepreneurs to switch from Tier 4 student visas to a Tier 2 skilled worker visa, and waive share ownership restrictions for senior staff earning GBP152,100 or above.

Further, it will become easier for tourists and business visitors to undertake some study in the UK where it is incidental to the main purpose of their visit, and business visitors to the UK will be able to undertake a wider range of permissible activities.

Harper's statement also confirms that the student visitor route is being retained for those who come to the UK for short-term study, but that the "little used and anomalous" prospective student route is to be scrapped. Also, there will be a new provision for "artists of exceptional promise" within the high-value immigrant Tier 1 category.

However, the process of genuineness assessments and interviews will be expanded in general for Tier 1 applications, for ministers of religion applying for Tier 2 visas, for Tier 5 temporary workers, and for students applying for further leave to remain in the UK. Tier 4 student visas may also be dependent on the ability to speak English. Further, the rules by which applicants for indefinite leave to remain in the UK are required to demonstrate their knowledge of the English language and of life in the UK are to be altered.

The changes also include a number of country-specific measures, such as the addition of Hong Kong to the UK's Youth Mobility Scheme. Harper described this as "further strengthening business, trade and cultural ties between us."

Other changes affecting particular countries include the addition of Barbados to the list of countries whose nationals benefit from different documentary requirements, and whose nationals are exempt from the genuineness test when applying for a Tier 4 visa. Also, locally-engaged staff in Afghanistan will be given the opportunity to relocate to the UK within five years "in recognition of the unique contribution they have provided to the UK's efforts in Afghanistan," dependent on satisfactory conduct, and Kuwaiti nationals holding diplomatic and special passports will no longer have to obtain a visit visa to travel to the UK for either official or general visits.

More generally, there are also changes to the rules for dependants in the points-based system and other work routes, to allow dependants to apply from within the UK. However, applicants will still need to satisfy all other existing requirements, and the new rule will not apply if they are in the country illegally, as visitors, or on temporary admission or temporary release. The change follows a High Court judgment.

Immigration rules will also be relaxed for participants and personnel during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Tags: Expatriates | United Kingdom | Hong Kong | Education | Expats | Immigration | Visas And Passports | Working Abroad | Work | Working Abroad | Education | Immigration | Working Abroad |


News Archive